Interview: Craig Inciardi Talks "Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction"
Mon, 15 Jul 2013 13:32:53
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"Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction is something we've wanted to do for many years and the timing was perfect with the Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary and tour," says Craig Inciardi Associate Curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Inciardi has worked on envisioning and executing the most comprehensive and immersive exhibit on the band in its illustrious history. The museum effectively tells the group's story in an intimate fashion via artifacts you can't see absolutely anywhere itself. It's not only a must-see for Rolling Stones fans but for music fans everywhere.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Craig Inciardi talks the Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction and so much more.
What makes this exhibit different and special for you?
One of the things that makes it different is it's the first time we've ever done a 50-year retrospective of an inductee or an artist of any kind. The Rolling Stones are obviously in a very unique position. There's the impact and influence they've had as well as the extraordinary songwriting that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have produced over the years. It just made sense for us to do it.
How did you approach it? They've got such a rich history. That's not easy to narrow down.
We've always had an exhibit at the museum that's documented their career, but we've never done something this in depth. From the outset, we knew we wanted to tell the complete history to date so we wrote up a narrative that documented their career, their lives as children in post-War England, the early British blues scene, the formation of the band, and then we traced their history through the sixties, seventies, eighties all the way to the present. We came up with a wish list of artifacts that we felt we needed to help tell the story. We've had a great relationship with the band since the museum opened in 1995. They have loaned us various artifacts over the years. We already had a base of material we could count on. Then, we went to the band and asked them for additional material. We also went to collectors, record companies, and anybody who had a significant collection.
What were some of those items?
I'll give you an example. Going chronologically, we wanted to tell a very rich story and educate visitors on things they may not know about the band. Specifically from their childhood, we wanted to show the way they grew up. We were able to track down a yearbook from Mick Jagger's high school that included photographs of him on the basketball team. It was an early indication of the tremendous athleticism that he would have on stage when he was older. We also show a French text book of his from high school. He speaks several languages. When his family went on vacation in France, he was the interpreter. Brian Jones's goal was to be a musician from his early teen years. He had very little interest in any other avocation. His parents put a lot of pressure on him to get odd jobs to support himself. From a collector, we found his application to work on a double decker bus. He did that for about two weeks. He had a strong of odd jobs until he decided in 1963 he was going to give the Rolling Stones one-hundred percent of his time. We have an amazing collection of musical instruments we have gotten from the band and collectors. What's extraordinary about them is we managed to document how the instruments were used to record the band's most iconic songs. We have Brian Jones's first guitar he ever played on a Stones recording session. It's called a Harmony Stratotone. It's a British-made guitar. We have a 12-string Harmony of Keith Richards' that was used on virtually every song of the sixties that has a 12-string guitar part—songs like "Tell Me" and "Play With Fire". We have a dulcimer that Brian Jones used to record "Lady Jane". We have a Mellotron that was used to record "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and a lot of the songs on Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request.
Harmony 12-String Acoustic Guitar from the early 1960's that was owned and played by Keith Richards. The guitar was used on many early recordings including "Tell Me" and "Good Times, Bad Times"
Brian Jones Electric Guitar
Vox Prototype, 1964
Collection of Hard Rock Café International Brian Jones played this guitar onstage in 1964 and 1965. He did not use it in the studio very often due its odd shape and the difficulty playing it when sitting. This electric guitar is the one most associated with Brian Jones and also one of the most famous Rolling Stones instruments.
Mick Jagger School Yearbook and Basketball Team Photo, 1961
Dartford Grammar School, Dartford, England
Collection of Ali Zayeri (Stonesmuseum)
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards met for the first time at Wentworth Primary School in Dartford in 1951. “I distinctly remember the first conversation I had with Keith,” said Jagger. “I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He said he wanted to be like Roy Rogers and play guitar.” Richards moved and the two lost touch. Jagger attended Dartford Grammar School and excelled in both academics and sports. His father Joe Jagger said, “He was excellent at basketball and cricket, but he didn’t want to be tied down to all of the practice.”
What are some of other aspects of the exhibit?
Then, we also have iconic clothing the band wore throughout the years. The exhibit documents the evolution of rock 'n' roll fashion from the early sixties through the present. Early on, they wore jackets and ties. In the mid-sixties, they wore the swinging London dandy look that was made famous on Carnaby Street. In the late sixties, they took lots of vacations to places like Morocco and picked up a lot of clothing. In the seventies, they became the jetset of the band. The glam rock themes took over. Those are examples of some of the artifacts.
Keith Richards Jacket, c. 1965
Collection of Patty Baker
Keith Richards can be seen wearing this black leather bomber jacket in photographs included in the Rolling Stones’ 1966 greatest hits collection Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass).
Mick Jagger Stage Outfit, 1994
Design by Fiona Williams
Shirt by Paul Williams
Pants by John Richmond
Collection of the Rolling Stones (Copyright: Musidor BV)
Mick Jagger wore this outfit during the Voodoo Lounge tour, 1994 – 1995.
What's the process of laying out the exhibits?
After we figure out the narrative, the order of the display cases come next and the footprint of the galleries. We determine the sizes of the cases that are going to be built. We measure out a chalk line diagram of the case. We physically lay the artifacts on to a surface and arrange them how they will be presented. We photograph each one, and we have mounts made. The items are displayed in a variety of ways. Guitars are sometimes mounted on a wall or put in a freestanding case. We measure everything out very accurately beforehand so we know exactly what it'll look like in the case.
Mick Jagger Jumpsuit, 1972
Design by Ossie Clark
Collection of Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger wore this jumpsuit during the 1972 American tour. It was one of several jumpsuits of different colors that London fashion designer Ossie Clark created for him. This jumpsuit was originally long-sleeved, and was altered sometime during the tour.
Charlie Watts Mariachi Shirt, 1975
Design by Western Costume Company
Collection of the Rolling Stones (Copyright Musidor BV) Despite his no-nonsense approach to playing and performing, Charlie Watts occasionally wore a mariachi-style shirt onstage for several tours in the Seventies. “I couldn’t play in it,” said Watts, “all the ruffles came down to my wrists.”
How does the fan component work?
We're encouraging fans to take photographs of their memorabilia or a picture from a Stones show and post them to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #rockhallsatisfaction. You can view the results at the exhibit or at the web site www.rockhall.com. There's been a tremendous response. People are posting all kinds of crazy items and photographs so they can be a part of the exhibit.
Do a lot of artists visit the museum?
We get artists constantly in town visiting the museum. We'll give private tours, and they get to see their peers' work. Then, a lot of the artists documented in the museum check out their own exhibits periodically.
What's next for you?
We're in the planning stages to put a slate of exhibit subjects on the calendar for the next couple of years.
Charlie Watts Drawing, 1966
From the Collection of Julio Santo Domingo
This sketch by drummer Charlie Watts was published in the concert program sold on the Rolling Stones’ 1966 U.S. tour.
Mick Jagger Stage Outfit, 1981
Collection of Mick Jagger
This outfit was worn by Mick Jagger during the Rolling Stones’ 1981-1982 tours of the U.S and Europe. The cape is made from actual flags.
Rolling Stones Letter to Santana, June 10, 1970
Collection of Michael & Aisha Carabello
This letter requests Santana’s permission to include the group’s Altamont performance in a film with the working title Love In Vain, which would eventually be released as Gimme Shelter. Santana declined to participate.
ARC-0048 Jules Fisher Papers, stage rigging
Stage light rigging schematic for the Rolling Stones’ 1975 tour, dated April 21. From the Jules Fisher Papers.
ARC-0037 Jeff Gold Collection, Frank Sinatra ticket request
Frank Sinatra ticket request for a Rolling Stones show on the 1978 tour. From the papers of Art Collins, Rolling Stones Records executive, 1977-1982, and the Jeff Gold Collection.
Visit the Rock Hall Rolling Stones 50 Years of Satisfaction exhibit page!
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